New York Giants Notebook: Graham's Decision, Solder's Return and Peppers' Quest

Patrick Graham explains his decision to withdraw from head coaching opportunities, and more Giants notes.
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New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is currently living his best life.

He's lost weight and is noticeably trimmer. And he's so happy in his current job that he not only turned down an opportunity to interview for the New York Jets head coaching position last off-season, he also removed his name from any other head coaching vacancies after agreeing to a revised contract with the Giants that reportedly included a raise.

"You know, any time opportunities present themselves, you're excited," Graham said of his brief flirtation with possibly becoming an NFL head coach earlier this off-season.

"To me, the Giants, this is my dream job to be here as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. So I'm just happy to be here."

This is not the first time Graham's path has crossed with the Giants. He was the team's defensive line coach under Ben McAdoo during the 2016-2017 seasons. And he also had dealings with Giants Co-Director of Player Personnel Tim McDonnell from their days at Notre Dame.

Those relationships helped Graham build loyalty to the Giants organization.

"That's important to me. I happen to be here working with one of my friends, (head coach) Joe Judge and I've got a great group of guys to work with and a great group of coaches and players. 

"I mean, these guys, our coaches on defense, these guys are top-notch. Who wouldn't want to have that work environment? That's why I like it."

Does that mean Graham has no interest in ever becoming a head coach?

"I love coaching football. I love being a teacher that happens to teach football," he said. "You know, everybody in their profession likes a natural progression. If it comes up one day, it comes up one day. But is it the focus of my life? Absolutely not.

"The focus is to coach ballplayers, teach, be around these guys, do a good job for my boss, my head coach and whatever I'm doing, I'm making sure I'm making my parents proud and my family proud."

Offensive tackle Nate Solder knows deep down that his decision to opt-out of last season amid the COVI-19 pandemic was the right one.

But that doesn't mean it was an easy decision to make. While Solder, a cancer survivor who also has a young son battling cancer, didn't want to run the risk of contracting COVID-19, that doesn't mean that he didn't miss being around his teammates.

"Absolutely," he said Thursday. "That's one of the best parts of being in the NFL is the locker room with the guys, the camaraderie, and having a collective goal. I really did miss that and I'm glad to be back part of that."

The giants and Solder renegotiated his contract, allowing him to return for what is likely one final season. But things have drastically changed since Solder last suited up for the Giants. Specifically, he is no longer assured of a starting job on the offensive line, where for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he was the Giants starting left tackle.

As far as Solder's concerned, his return was never about getting his old job, now being handled by second-year man Andrew Thomas, back.

"My mindset was if I can be somewhere where I'm fulfilling my purpose, where I can be around guys that have the same set of values and goals and myself, it's a real honor and it's a privilege to be part of the NFL," he said.

The door isn't completely closed on Solder being a starter. If injuries pop up or if second-year man Matt Peart should struggle at right tackle, there is sure to be an opportunity for Solder to step in.

And if that doesn't happen--if Solder ends up as a reserve, well that's just fine with him.

"One of the great things about coming back is just the opportunity to work with a group of guys," he said. "Who cares who starts? I just want to be a part of an excellent group that's getting better every day."

Safety Jabrill Peppers doesn't want to give up his quest to secure jersey No. 5.

But he might not have a choice seeing that he appears to be fighting an uphill battle.

Peppers has been trying--thus far unsuccessfully--to negotiate a price with kicker Graham Gano to secure jersey No. 5, which is the number Peppers wore in high school and college.

So far, Gano doesn't seem interested in parting with the prized number and has apparently set a sky-high price for the coveted jersey number.

"I tried but he's not budging," Peppers said, adding, "You know, I'm thinking about hanging it up. I still probably got a month to try to see what I can do, try to swing him my way. But at the moment, it's not looking too good." 

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